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Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

During my years as a 
wildlife biologist, I was 
often called upon to weigh-in 
for or against a specific wildlife 
management strategy under 
consideration — usually in re- 
sponse to a trend we were ob- 
serving in the field, or new de 
velopments affecting a particu- 
lar species. Making solid, informed deci- 
sions on issues such as disease prevention 
was a challenging part of my job. 

Today, biologists and other wildlife 
and fisheries professionals are routinely 
called upon during such decisions; if any- 
thing, wildlife management has become 
more complex. A number of factors con- 
tribute to this complexity, but essentially it 
is a result of heightened interactions be- 
tween people and wild animals. 

The global transport of goods, plants, 
and animals has accelerated threats to 
wildlife. Outbreaks of disease among fish- 
es, birds, mammals, and amphibians often 
catch the attention of the press, and the 
finding of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) 
this past winter in a white-tailed deer in 
western Virginia was no exception. And, 
yes, CWD is a serious disease. It is a disease 
that has been faced by western states for 
decades and one for which our staff have 
been preparing for many years. 

The good news here is that we have 
learned a great deal from other states, and 
we are responding with a well developed 
plan that includes actively monitoring for 

.■^.-;'-.' s:w--; rx-: 

CWD. Our primary manage- 
ment objective is to minimize 
risk of the disease spreading 
within the population by fo- 
cusing our work geographi- 
cally. As such, five years ago 
our Department made the de- 
cision to limit the transport of 
whole deer carcasses from 
states with CWD into Virginia. 

We will continue to deal with chal- 
lenges such as CWD as we always have — 
through thoughtful, deliberate debate 
and policy development. And while such 
policy decisions are not always met with 
enthusiasm by our constituents and the 
public at large, I can assure you that they 
are made with one underlying principle in 
mind: that is, to put the good of the overall 
resource ahead of the good of an individ- 
ual animal. That principle has guided 
wildlife management over the decades. It 
is a principle that comes into play more 
and more as humans bump up against 
wild animals and their habitats. 

So, I'd like to tip my hat to our dedi- 
cated staff of wildlife and fisheries profes- 
sionals whose expertise and judgment are 
regularly called upon both in the field and 
in the board room. Their dedication to 
their work cannot be measured by hours 
put in or paperwork completed, but 
rather, by the tough decisions they make 
each and every week to safeguard the 
health and vitality of wild animals across 

KRi* 'i.-H 

Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth: 
To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard 
the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and 
property In connection with boating, hunting and fishing: To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an aware- of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia 's Wildlife and Natural Resources 




Commonwealth of Virginia 
Bob McDonnell, Governor 



Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

Douglas W. Domenech 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Brent Clarke, Fairfax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Jason Hallacher, Staff Contributor 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is publi'.i 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game . 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders 
address changes to Virginia Wiltllife, P. O. Box 74 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other c. 
munications concerning this publication to Mrv 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad StV 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription r. 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; S- 
per each back issue, subject to availability. Out 
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$5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9- 
POSTMASTER: Please send all address changt- 
Virginia Wildlife, PO. Box 7477, Red Oak, K 
51591-0477. i'ostage for periodicals paid 
Richmond, Virginia and additional entry officer 

Copyright 2010 by the Virginia Department 
Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sh. 
afford to all persons an et]ual access to Departnu 
programs and facilities without regard to r, 
color, religion, national origin, disability, sex 
age. If you believe that you have been discrimii 
ed against in any program, activity or faci 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game 
Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4 
West Broad Street.) R O. Box 11104, Richmc 
Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general infon 
tional purposes only and every effort has b 
made to ensure its accuraq,'. The information i 
tained herein does not serve as a legal repress 
Hon of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. 1. ^ 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheri* 
does not assume responsibilit)' for an)' change 
dates, regulations, or information that may ocn 
after publication." 


Mixed Sources 

bout the cover: 

For three decades hunters have 
taken to Virginia woods to test 
their skill at harvesting a spring 
gobbler. Their chances of 
success are much improved, 
thanks to a long-running 
management effort aimed at 
boosting turkey populations 
statewide. See related story on 
page 8. ©Dwight Dyke 

V /TU grMj 



Art With An Edge 

by Clarke C. Jones 
In a shop in Goshen, the art of 
knife making reaches new 

'Tis the Season 

by Virginia Shepherd 
Those who heed the early 
morning alarm clock will not be 


1 v» ^- s^^M 

i" m^^^ 



Conservation Medicine 

i| P _ y * by Marie Majarov 
The marriage of natural history and medical 
science holds great promise for our future. 

Wild About Morels 

by Cristina Santiestevan 
Learning to see them takes patience, a journey 

well rewarded. 

Huntley Meadows 

by King Montgomery 
This Northern Virginia park offers a reprieve 
from life's hectic pace. 

Down-to-Earth Education 

by Gail Brown 
Dickenson County students demonstrate 
initiative and teamwork. 


For subscriptions, 
circulation problems 
and address changes: 


12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23.95 

Ain't No Fish in That Creek 

by Jason Hallacher 
A Department study answers a lingering, 
nagging question. 

Off the Leash 
On The Water 
Dining In 
Photo Tips 

©Trischa Jones 

by Clarke C.Jones. 

There are some 
chance meetings that 
stay with you forever, 
and Edmund could 
not shake the child- 
hood impression of 
the knives he saw as 
a teenager and his 
desire to make them. 

The staccato grumble of a '93 
Harley FLHS echoes down 
the Blue Ridge Mountains 
along the Augusta-Rockbridge coun- 
ty border. We hear his arrival long be- 
fore we see him. Photographer 
Dwight Dyke and I are waiting in the 
driveway in front of the home of in- 
ternationally known, integral knife 
maker Edmund Davidson. The home 
is an old, white clapboard house built 
in 1886 by Edmund's great-grandfa- 
ther and is the only home Davidson 
has ever known. 

The tall, angular Davidson pulls 
into the driveway. He drops the kick- 
stand of the bike and strides over to 
greet us. With mustache and long 
ponytail, he looks like he might have 

walked off the set of Easy Rider or The 
Wild One. The fact that there is a 
handgun for protection tucked into 
his belt adds to the effect. I thought I 
was in this remote part of Virginia for 
an interview and a few pictures: It is 
not every day your subject is packing 

If you have yet to learn to not 
judge a book by its cover, you will 
discover something about Edmund 
and yourself if he invites you into his 
home. There in his living room sits a 
third-hand, Kawai piano. It is not the 
home furnishing that comes to mind 
when entering the late 19th-century 
farmhouse that huddles close to 
Route 42 near the hamlet of Goshen. 
If you ask Edmund if he plays the 

©Dwight Dyke 


piano, shyly he will admit he does. 
He may tell you that although he 
took piano lessons for five years as a 
child, he was "hopeless." Try not to 
stand opened mouthed as 1 did, ex- 
pecting some broken down rendition 
of Rocky Top and instead hear the 
melodic notes of the Sonata Quasi Una 
Fantasia Opus 27 by Beethoven. If you 
prefer to hear the Love Theme from 
Romeo and Juliet by Nino Rota, as 
arranged by Henry Mancini, he can 
play that too. One of the first things 
you learn about Edmund Davidson 
is that he is far from one dimensional. 

Knife making was an unknown 
craft to me and, frankly, I did not see 
anything special about making a 
knife until 1 learned what a full-inte- 
gral knife was. Simply put — ^but very 
difficult to make — it is a knife made 
out of a block of a solid piece of steel. 
There are no solder joints or gaps. 
The blade, guard, handle tang, and 
butt cap are all cut out of the same 
piece of steel. The only thing which is 
not steel would be the handle inlays. 

"I saw my first real custom knives 
when my family rented our house to 
a group of hunters. Two of them had 

Here, Edmund Davidson operates a vertical milling machine used to mal<e heavy 
cuts. Above, Intricate engraving adorns the blade and handle sections of the 
finished knife (p. 4). This Sub-Hilt Clip Point Fighter knife featuring a scrimshaw 
handle is a family gift to Richard Petty. 

Bob Loveless knives. Bob Loveless is 
considered one of the world's most 
innovative knife makers and a true 
pioneer in that art form," relates the 

55-year-old Davidson. "\ was 14 
when I saw these knives and they 
made an impression on me. Howev- 
er, back then, I didn't want to be a 

Davidson uses a large band saw to cut steel for the making of two l<nives. 

knife maker. I wanted to be an over- 
the-road truck driver — and I became 
one. I traveled over a million miles on 
the road without an accident. But I 
found it to be a brutal way to make a 

There are some chance meetings 
that stay with you forever, and Ed- 
mund could not shake the childhood 
impression of the knives he saw as a 
teenager and his desire to make 
them. "In 1982, 1 had what you might 
call an 'epiphany' about knife mak- 
ing. I studied for four years, learning 
to be a self-taught machinist, not real- 
ly knowing what to do or how to do 
it, but I was driven to make knives. It 
was much more difficult than I imag- 
ined," says Edmund. 

Following one's dream can be an 
extremely difficult journey and often 
there are few who believe you have 
taken the right path. "There were so 
many people who thought I would 
fail," he reveals. 

There are over 50 important steps 
that have to be taken when Edmund 
makes an integral knife. A mistake in 
any one of these steps could result in 
an expensive correction or having to 
start the whole knife making process 
over again. 

"There are several individual set- 
ups involving the actual machining 
of the steel bar that are most critical," 

says Davidson. "That is because the 
cuts have to be accurate so the end re- 
sults are near perfect. The hollow 
grinding has to be perfect because 
tliis is the whole knife that I am work- 
ing on and not parts that are added 
later, such as a guard or butt cap." 

Edmund uses two different 
milling machines. One is a Cincinnati 
Vertical Milling machine built in 
1942. It was sort of an impulsive pur- 
chase. "I bought it in 2004 but could- 
n't take delivery of the thing until 
2006 — ^because I didn't have a place 
to put it." Davidson also purchased a 
Sharpe Vertical Turret Milling ma- 
chine. One machine is used to square 
some of the steel bars and do heavy 
cutting and the other has a digital 
read-out (but all the work is done 
manually) and is used to trim and 
square handle materials. Handle ma- 
terial can vary from exotic or stabi- 
lized woods, to industrial synthetics, 
or to all legal ivory or horn. 

"I didn't know much about either 
of the machines other than that I 
needed them to make a quality 
knife," he says. These machines may 
help in knife making but most of Ed- 
mund's creations require extensive 

"Another part of the process," ex- 
plains Edmund, "is personally file fit- 
ting most of tlie handle inlays. This is 

critical to a good fit and final finish. 
However, when hand rubbing the 
finish onto the blade, it is very easy to 
get stuck by the point of the blade 
and edges. When flat filing a tradi- 
tional Bowie Blade, I file to the edge 
so it is sharp when it goes to be heat- 
treated, so preparing this style of 
blade is extremely dangerous. Most 
every object or tool I work with can 
eat skin at the speed of light, so safety 
is paramount!" 

It should also be noted that David- 
son does not use CNC (automated 
machinery) or lasers on knives that 
-1 are represented as being handmade. 
£ Onmany of Davidson's knives it can 
I truly be said that they are created by 
® blood, sweat, and maybe a few tears. 
From his small shop, Davidson 
sells his knives all over the world, 
and his international reputation is 
built upon quality workmanship 
and his creativity. He expects no less 
from the engravers and other arti- 
sans whose work may become part 
of his knives. If his knives are to 
have legacy (legal) ivory handle, 
Edmund sends his knives to Texas, 
where scrimshander Linda Kurst 
Stone of Kerrville performs all of 
Davidson's scrimshaw work. It may 
take Linda anywhere from 8 to 15 
hours to produce handles for Ed- 
mund's knives. Scrimshaw work 
can be very detailed, depending on 

Richard Petty (C) enjoys a moment with 
daughter Lisa and son-in-law Charles 
Luck IV, president of Luck Stone. 


Davidson finishes filing work on an integral knife prior to sanding. 

what the customer desires. The 
scrimshaw work alone on the handle 
of a knife made by Davidson, which 
was presented recently to Richard 
Petty as a gift from son-in-law 
Charles and daughter Lisa Luck of 
Goochland, took 60 hours. 

Linda and Edmund have been 
collaborating since the late 1980s. She 
has high praise for his work. "There 
are not many knife makers who 
choose the more time-consuming 
method that is required to make an 
integral knife. 1 think it shows he is 
willing to invest his time for a quality 
piece with the integrity that has been 
consistent in his knife making," says 

Engraving on the blade or other 
parts of a Davidson knife is the work 
of nationally recognized engraver 
Jere Davidson (no relation) of Rust- 
burg. The engraving can make a 
valuable handmade knife more valu- 
able or if poorly done, will make a 
knife far less valuable. Jere has been a 
long-standing member of what Ed- 
mund calls his "team" that helps cre- 
ate his custom knives. 

"Jere is the only person I trust 
when it comes to having one of my 
knives engraved. We have worked 
together for years and he is extremely 
creative. Every engraving Jere does 
for me is different," says Edmund. 

After Jere has completed his artis- 
tic engraving to a knife, Edmund will 
have the knife sent to Brad Stallsmith 
of Peters' Heat Treating, Inc. in 
Meadville, Pennsylvania. According 
to Stallsmith, "Heat treating a knife 
increases the toughness, hardness, 
corrosion resistance, and edge hold- 
ing. It involves heating the kiiife to a 
specific elevated temperature for a 
given amount of time, followed by 
rapid cooling, then a cryogenic treat- 
ment, and finally reheating to a lower 
temperature. Grain structure is trans- 
formed, resulting in a blade that will 
not bend or break and will hold a 
sharp edge." 

Asked whether there is any addi- 
tional pressure when knowing you 
are working on a knife that will be 
going to someone like Richard Petty, 
Brad responds, "Most raw blades 
that I heat treat have a maximum 
value of a few hundred dollars as I 
get them. Edmund's blades are val- 
ued at several thousands of dollars. 
Richard Petty's knife presented a big- 
ger challenge because of the work 
that had already gone into making it 
prior to heat treating. This adds great 
value to the blade, thus increasing the 
need to handle everything correctly 
and to get it right the first time." 

Perhaps the best place to see the 
artistic works of Edmund Davidson 

and his team is in Dr. David Darom's 
beautiful book, Edmund Davidson, The 
Art of the Integral Knife. Dr. Darom, 
former head of the Department of Sci- 
entific Photography at the Hebrew 
University of Jerusalem, to date has 
compiled a series of four art bc^oks 
dedicated to modem custom knives. 
The Davidson book not only details 
how an integral knife is made, it 
shows in vivid color why Edmund's 
knives are a favorite of collectors in 
Virginia and around the world. 

If you only lookeci at art as a paint- 
ing or a sculpture, you have limited 
-1 yourself as to what art can trtily be. 
£ Despite being a one-man operation, 
I Davidson believes he has been led to 
® this art form by greater hands than 
his, saying, "\ could never have cho- 
sen another occupation that has been 
as rewarding as knife making. It has 
introduced me to a world, and to very 
special people, I would never have 
met otherwise." 

Edmund Davidson's "art with an 
edge" will enlighten you to the fact 
that art can be so much more. In 
each work of art, Davidson 
melds his individual cre- 
ativity into each integral he 
produces. He feels the creation 
of the Richard Petty knife was 
the pinnacle of his career, and it 
may be today. But if you get to 
meet Edmunci, you will leave 
with the impression there are 
still other Everests that he 
will conc]uer. D 

Clarke C. ]oncs spends his spare 
time with liis black Labrador re- 
triever, Luke, hunting up good 
stories. You can visit Clarke 
and Luke on their website at 

©Trischa Joni 


by Virginia Shepherd 

It's been nearly 50 years since Vir- 
ginia opened its first spring gob- 
bler season. In 1962, hunters 
headed out into the spring woods for 
the first time. In the quiet of the 
predawn darkness with wooden 
Lynch box calls in their pockets, the\ 
set up with their backs against big oak 
trees and waited for the show to 

It is always a show you have to 
wait for Every turkey hunter knows 
that. In the predawn, hands stiff with 
the cold and ground hard on the back- 
side, it seems the darkness will never 
lift. Even as the outlines of trees be- 
come more visible with each blink of 
the eye, it's still a black-and-white 
world when that first crow sounds off 
and the hunter makes that first ever- 
so-careful scrape of a yelp across a 

A gobbler's rapid-fire reply seems 
to wake the world with a shout, a 
thrill, a full-throated drum roll. There 
really is nothing like it. By the time 
you leave the woods at noon, the 
breezy, warm intoxication of another 
Virginia springtime is in full swing, 
abuzz with colors and sounds and 
movement, and you realize you've 
been a privileged participant in some- 
thing extraordinary. You were there, 
smack-dab in the middle of it all, with 
or without a turkey in the bag. Thank 
God for wild turkeys! They've put 
you back in the woods at sunrise — ex- 
actly where you need to be. 

It is always a show you have 
to wait for. 

It is easy to forget the monumental 
effort it took to re-establish the wild 
turkey not only in Virginia, but 
throughout the entire country. By 
1920, the wild turkey had been lost 
from all but 18 out of the 39 states in its 
original range. In Virginia, wild 
turkeys disappeared from nearly 
two- thirds of the counties in the state. 

What Do You See Out Tliere? 

Spring turkey hunters see more than 
strutting gobblers when they're sitting 
for hours with their backs up against a 
tree on a fine spring morning. They've 
seen bears, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats 
as well. Here are a few of the "bonus" 
experiences our cooperators have told 
us about while turkey hunting: 

♦ A red fox ran by close enough to 

♦ Saw box turtles mating 

♦ Saw a bear and 3 cubs spook a turkey 

♦ Saw a gobbler with 4 beards 

♦ Saw a hen strut 

♦ Called in a coyote 

♦ Called in a bobcat 

♦ Saw a turkey gobble at a coyote 

♦ Found a turkey nest with 10 eggs 

♦ Saw a young bald eagle swoop down 
on a shot turkey 



Old-timers remember the dismal 
(and expensive) failures of stocking 
pen-raised birds in the 1920s and '30s 
that drove financially strapped 
wildlife agencies to despair. It was 
only in the 1940s, when research dol- 
lars became available as a result of the 
passage of the Federal Aid in Wildlife 
Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Act 
of 1937 (combining a federal excise 
tax on sporting guns and ammuni- 
tion with hunter license fees to ftmd 
state wildlife management efforts), 
that wildlife managers could get 
down to scratch and work on figur- 
ing out how to get wild turkeys back 
into our forests. 

Still, it took decades. Why? Be- 
cause intuitive methods didn't work. 

Pen-raised birds repeatedly proved 
susceptible to predation and typically 
failed to survive until spring. It was 
not until Virginia's own Dr Henry S. 
Mosby, a wildlife management profes- 
sor at Virginia Tech, successfully 
demonstrated that a rocket-cannon 
netting device used for capturing wa- 
terfowl could be effectively used to 
trap and relocate native birds that 
hopes began to rise that turkeys 
would once again skim the treetops 
across the Old Dominion. 

The trapping and relocation of 
wild turkeys back into their historical 
habitat proved an astonishing success, 
in Virginia, turkey populations were 
established in every county from 
coiitiiincd oil pg. 11 

APRIL 2010 


Here's What Virginia 
Hunters Have to Say. . . 

DGIF conducts a yearly suA/ey of more 
than 300 spring gobbler hunters across 
the state who collectively clock in a 
total of more than 12,000 hours of hunt- 
ing. These surveys provide information 
about each hunting season, wild turkey 
habits, and hunting experiences. Survey 
highlights below should prove of inter- 
est to seasoned and not-so-seasoned 
spring turkey hunters. (For a closer look 
at the complete survey results, go to 

Improving Your 
Spring Hunting Success 

O Don't press that snooze button on 
your alarm clock. More than half the 
birds harvested in the spring are taken 
by 8 a.m. More than 80% are taken be- 
fore 10 a.m. 

o Make sure you hit the woods during 
opening week. Daily harvest rates are 
greatest during the first few days of 
the season. The numbers decline 
steadily over the second and third 
weeks, then pick up again during the 
last two weeks. 

o Your best chance at striking up a con- 
versation with a gobbler is during the 
first week of the season when gob- 
bling rates peak. 

^ Generally speaking, gobblers are early 
morning talkers. Gobbling rates in the 
morning were more than twice that 
heard afternoon. 

3 Overall, hunters have the best success 
rate hunting in hardwood forests. 

o Spring turkey hunters have on average 
a 257o success rate. So, don't expect to 
bag a bird every year. Just appreciate 
the opportunity to be in the woods 
earning the right to take one of Vir- 
ginia's gobblers. 

o Spring turkey hunters prefer copper- 
coated shot. Heavi-shot comes in sec- 
ond (and is steadily increasing). Lead 
shot follows up in third place. 

3 30 yards is the shotgun Golden Rule for 
a successful shot. The average mean 
killing distance reported is 29 yards. 
The average distance for missed shots 
is 37 yards. 

3 50 yards is the rifle Golden Rule for a 
successful shot. The average killing 
shot by rifle hunters was 51 yards. The 
average distance for a missed bird was 
76 yards. 

Hot Topics 

>Hunter safety is the #1 priority for 
spring turkey hunters, prompting an 
ongoing discussion concerning the use 
of rifles for turkey hunting. However, 
changing the regulation to shotgun- 
only is not within the purview of DGIF. 
It requires legislative action by the 
General Assembly, which is a bigger 
and more complicated procedure than 
most hunters might think. 

.VThe coyote controversy. According to 
Gary Norman, radio telemetry studies 
on coyotes show limited evidence of 
direct predation on wild turkeys. Plus, 
the rise in coyote populations does 
not correlate with decreases in wild 
turkeys. So, while we're still trying to 
nail down the effects of increasing 
coyote populations on native wildlife, 
it appears that turkey populations are 
not suffering from this new dynamic 
edging its way into our ecosystem. 

Spring Gobbler Harvest 

1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2009 



Trapping turkeys for retocation within the state was key to management efforts 
of the past. 

which they had been lost. The ever 
adaptable bird appeared able to thrive 
in nearly every environment. In fact, 
wild turkey populations today occu- 
py more square miles of habitat in the 
entire U.S. than any other game bird. 

So here we are, beginning a new 
decade in a new century, and turkey 
populations in Virginia have never 
been higher. At an estimated 165,000 
birds, Virginia ranks in the top tier of 
mid-Atlantic states in wild turkey 
populations. The number of spring 
turkey hunters in Virginia has in- 
creased as well, from 43,000 in 1993 to 
nearly 70,000 today. Hunters are expe- 
riencing an average 25% success rate, 
a 51% satisfaction rate, and last year's 
harvest jumped 10% from the year be- 
fore with a nearly record harvest of 
16,611 birds. Without a doubt, wild 
turkey restoration is one of Virginia's 
premier wildlife management success 
stories. Now, can anything be done to 
make sure we keep it that way? 

APRIL 2010 

You betcha. 

Gary Norman, the Department's 
wild turkey project leader, is closely 
watching a phenomenon in Virginia 
which has occurred in other states 
with high turkey populations. "After 
years of increasing rates of produc- 
tivity, turkey numbers appear to 
reach a plateau. Productivity then 
begins to fluctviate from year to year, 
rising and falling at intervals. Some 
regions of our state may have 
reached that threshold density." 
Norman is observing productivity 
fluctuations in many parts of Vir- 

"From a management perspec- 
tive, we're very watchful," he says. 
"But on the flip side, I'm not sure we 
could be doing better population- 
wise on a statewide basis." 

A key objective of DGIF's turkey 
management program is to bring 
uniformity to turkey populations in 
the state by improving numbers in 

regions with low and declining pop- 
ulations through the sensitive manip- 
ulation of hunting seasons and habi- 
tat management. Another top man- 
agement priority is the promotion of 
fall turkey hunting, which has been 
waning over the past ten years. 

Putting it all together, DGIF is de- 
veloping a new, wild ttxrkey manage- 
ment plain this year, designed to uti- 
lize 50 years' worth of research on 
this king of game birds. We've helped 
turkeys make it back into ovir woods. 
And with the help of Virginia's 
turkey hunters, we're determined to 
keep it that way. D 

Virginia Shepherd is a fanner editor of Virginia 
Wildlife magazine. She has been a freelance 
loriter for the pmst 13 years. 

Wmt to Participate? 

If you're a spring turkey hunter, we'd 
love to have your input on your hunt- 
ing experiences this season. Go to and sign up for 
the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey. 

Be Careful 
Out There 

1 . Don't wear any clothing with red, 
white, or blue colors. These are 
found on a gobbler's head and 
should be avoided. 

2. Never stalk a gobbling bird. An- 
other hunter could also be hunting 
the same bird and misidentify you 
as a gobbler. 

3. If a hunter does approach you, do 
not wave or motion to them. It is 
better to yell out that you're a 
hunter. Waving to a hunter could 
mimic the movement of a gobbler 
and lead to trouble. 

4. Pick a large tree to set up to call 
from. This will serve to protect you 
from hunters who could be stalk- 
ing you from behind. 


story and photos 
by Marie Majarov 

In the early 1800s, renowned 
evolutionary biologist Charles 
Darwin began his remarkable 
life's work as a medical student, 
which in his era routinely integrated 
extensive study of natural history 
and zoology with medical training. 
The richness of these collective stud- 
ies inspired Darwin to undertake his 
famous journey aboard the HMS Bea- 
gle to explore the relatively pristine 
natural world of that time and even- 
tually pen his seminal work. On the 
Origin of Spwcies. This intimate con- 
nection of natural history and medi- 
cine, so critical to Darwin and health 

practitioners of his time, has been 
largely lost in today's world of intel- 
lectual specialization and exponen- 
tially increasing masses of knowl- 
edge and technology. 

Our natural world, too, is little 
like the world Darwin observed; 
hardly could it be called pristine. The 
footprints of man's actions have 
taken a heavy toll. An upsurge in 
new and re-emerging human and 
animal infectious diseases; non-in- 
fectious diseases; environmental 
health problems that are related to 
habitat loss and degradation; climate 
change; chemical pollutants; and the 
distressing demise of many species is 
being recorded. Headlines about 
Swine Flu, Avian Influenza, Lyme 

Disease, and various cancers have 
become all too frequent. We are at 
ever-increasing risk if the natural 
order of ecological processes contin- 
ues to be undermined. It is therefore 
urgent that we renew the essential 
link between medicine and natural 
history in order to live in a more 
healthful manner and achieve a sus- 
tainable future that protects, not 
squanders, precious and limited re- 

This is the goal of conservation 
medicine: reconnecting natural Msto- 
ry with medical science in order to 
find practical solutions to the envi- 
ronmental challenges and health is- 
sues of our time. In our modem era of 
information and technology, such a 



VCU's Walter L. Rice Education Building. The LEEDS Platinum Green Certified Education 
building dedicated to the memory of Ambassador Walter L. Rice. Left, a breathtaking view 
of original streambeds and new grasses emerging in the drained impoundment once referred 
to as Lake Charles, now being returned to its natural state. 


DGIF biologist/herpetologist J.D. Kleopfer demon- 
strates how radio telemetry equipment is used in 
locating turtles fitted with radio transmitters. 

Dr. Joy Ware, Director of the Conservation Medicine 
Program at the VCU Walter and Inger Rice Center 
for Environmental Life Science, examines a box 
turtle. Reptiles are major bioindicators for many 
potential human and environmental health risks. 

monumental endeavor requires the 
active collaboration of many 
minds — medical scientists, biolo- 
gists, pathologists, ecologists, epi- 
demiologists, statisticians, veterinari- 
ans, chemists, citizen scientists, and 
even economists and social scientists 
thinking outside the specialization 

Virginia is exceptionally fortunate 
to have this kind of cutting-edge col- 
laboration actively uncierway. A 
newly established Conservation 
Medicine Program at the Walter and 
Inger Rice Center for Environmental 
Life Sciences of Virginia Common- 
wealth University (VCU), one of only 
a few such endeavors in the United 
States and worldwide, is rapidly 
developing under the direction of 
Joy Ware, Ph.D., professor of 
pathology, affiliate professor of bi- 
ology, and nationally recognized 
cancer researcher, with indispensa- 

Dr Daryl Peterson, a VCU Biochemist, is 
working to isolate a hepadnavirus to be 
used in developing important human 
disease vaccines. 

ble support and involvement from 
the Virginia Department of Game 
and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and a 
growing number of other partner in- 

In the words of Dr. Ware, "Conser- 
vation medicine is the study of the in- 
tersection of wildlife health, human 
health, and environmental health. 
Health interconnects all species," she 

One of the tree 
frogs found at 
the Rice Center. 


Fowler's toad, Bufo fowleri, is one of the 
amphibian species found at the Rice Ctr. 

land and water, are exceptionally 
sensitive to environmental condi- 
tions and therefore act as critical 
bioindicators for many potential 
human and environmental health 
risks. Monitoring disease and mal- 
formations in various frogs, toads, 
snakes, salamanders, and turtles is 
central to Dr. Ware's research efforts. 
A partnership with DGIF biologist 
and herpetologist John D. Kleopfer 
"makes this program of amphibian 
and reptile research possible at this 
university," states Dr. Ware. The rela- 
tionship is marked by technical sup- 
port and what Kleopfer calls "syner- 
gism," from which creative ideas and 
insights flow. It exemplifies the prac- 
tice of conservation medicine. 

Box turtles serve an important role as bioindicators of environmental health. This turtle was 
a healthy specimen and said "aaah " quite willingly! 

emphasizes. "Our focus is to study 
the ecological backdrop to disease 
and to achieve solutions that will 
make a real difference." 


Amphibians and reptiles, with their 
permeable skin and exposure to both 

Blood and tissue samples, collect- 
ed with the utmost care to protect 
each species and the balance of na- 
ture from any inadvertent spread of 
pathogens, are processed and cata- 
logued by Dr. Ware and hardwork- 
ing graduate students. The health 
monitoring data that have been col- 
lected so far look good for species in 



> 1 








Dr. Ware and graduate student Nicolas 
Frederick swab an eastern box turtle for 
samples to monitor its health. 

and around the Rice Center property, 
but both Ware and Kleopfer caution 
that people underestimate both the 
importance of bioindicators cind the 
necessity to replicate studies to insure 
that real trends, not just isolated oc- 
currences, are properly understood. 

Box turtle populations present an- 
other special concern for researchers. 
Frequently killed or displaced by 
urban development, these long-liv- 
ing reptiles don't usually survive 
when relocated. Twenty captive-bred 
young turtles whose parents were 
rescued from a proposed shopping 
center serve as the core participants of 
a major, innovative 'head starting' 
project. Ten turtles were penned in an 
appropriate habitat on the Rice Cen- 
ter property; the other ten, simply re- 
leased. With the use of radio teleme- 
try, it was found that penning the tur- 
tles significantly reduced the turtle's 
movement patterns and subsequent- 
ly improved their survival. This re- 
search will hopefully provide wildlife 
managers with a tool to address the 
troubling decline of box turtles 
throughout their range. 

Amphibians and reptiles also star 
in outreach efforts to educate future 
stewards of environmental health in 



the principles of conservation medi- 
cine, a goal of all associated with the 
program. Ann Wright, VCU Life Sci- 
ences outreach education coordinator 
works closely with DGIF's Master 
Naturalist program and uses explo- 
ration of vernal pools rich with spot- 
ted salamanders to introduce con- 
cepts of environmental health to area 
school children. And box turtles are 
the favored "charismatic" choice of 
reptiles for Kleopfer, whose outreach 
efforts will be featured in an upcom- 
ing issue of this magazine. 



Land use, habitat fragmentation, and 
biodiversity are central concepts 

species populations. Some will be 
lost forever and others will increase 
disproportionately. Consider, for ex- 
ample, our fractured woodlands 
with prolific numbers of white-tailed 
deer and white-footed mice which 
carry Lyme disease. 

Maintaining habitat and species 
biodiversity has been linked with a 
decrease in infectious diseases. To 
demonstrate this principle: the 
American robin is what is termed a 
competent host (a fertile place for 
West Nile, the virus, to thrive) and a 
major food source for hungry mos- 
quitoes. When mosquitoes have a 
more diverse choice of birds upon 
which to feed — many being incom- 
petent hosts — fewer mosquitoes be- 

Dr. Ware holds an eastern box turtle fitted with a radio transmitter that enables easy locating 
for monitoring. 

within conservation medicine. Ex- 
tinction of species and loss of tiiversi- 
ty have devastatingly destructive ef- 
fects on ecosystem functions and we 
must appreciate the risk this creates to 
our health, our children, and our 
world. Roads and development en- 
croach upon and diminish critical 
habitat, leading to profound and fre- 
quently irreversible changes in 

come infected and the incidence of 
West Nile virus declines significantly 
in birds as well as in humans. In this 
regard. Rice Center investigators 
have extensive programs of monitor- 
ing the health characteristics and mi- 
gration patterns of avian popula- 
tions, as well as clever testing on the 
contents of mosquito stomachs to as- 
sess what birds they have feasted 

Dr. Joy Ware and DGIF's J. D. Kleopfer use 
telemetry equipment to locate turtles in the 
pen of the Head Starting project. 

upon and evaluate infection types 
and levels carried by those birds. 

As we lose plant and animal 
species, we also lose inherent possi- 
bilities to understand varied biologi- 
cal and ecological problems. Many 
bear species are threatened; under- 
standing their fat metabolism could 
offer insight into obesity. Sharks have 
unrivaled immune systems but are 
endangered by slaughter for carti- 
lage and soup. Drugs based on chem- 
icals found in nature, like Tn.xol, an ef- 
fective agent used to treat breast can- 
cer, came from the Pacific Yew tree 
that was once considered a trash tree 
and routinely discarded. Think what 
else is being discarded! 

The Rice Center location is ex- 
ceedingly advantageous to this 
work. Its 343 magnificent acres 
fronting on the James River are in 
close proximity to DGIF's Chicka- 
hominy Wildlife Management Area 
(WMA); they host the DGIF Region 1 
headquarters; and they are adjacent 
to Presquile Island, James River, and 
Plum Tree Island national wildlife 
refuges overseen by Cyrus Brame of 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an- 
other active member of the partner- 
ship who aggressively works on 

APRIL 2010 

Mosquito Trap developed by Biostatician, Dr. Kevin A. Caiiiouet to collect mosquitoes so they 
can be assessed for what birds they have feasted on and the diseases that might be involved. 
®Emily Sheldon, VCU Biostatistics graduate student. 









The silver button pasted to the box door is a temperature recording i-button that was used to 
record temperature at 1 -minute intervals in order to determine if the presence of the trap 
affected the bird's behavior. Here, it is being used with prothonotary warblers. 
^Emily Sheldon, VCU Biostatistics graduate student. 


Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice, by A. Alonzo Aguirre, 
Richard S. Ostfeld, Gary M. Tabor, Carol House, and Mary C. Pearl. Published by 
Oxford University Press, Inc., 2002. 

The Conservation Medicine Program at VCU: 

Diversity of Birds Buffer Against West Nile Virus . Science Daily. 

Biodiversity Loss is a 'Wake-Up' Call, Warns UN. Richard Black. 

many fronts — particularly habitat 
management practices to control in- 
vasive species. 

Together these properties form 
over 11,000 acres of protected habitat 
where collaborators can monitor, 
study and guard many native species 
while preserving, and in some in- 
stances even restoring, the habitat to 
its natural state. The DGIF and VCU 
have both erected LEEDS-certified 
green buildings on the Rice property 
that take into consideration least dis- 
turbance to the environment, energy 
savings, water efficiency, and indoor- 
outdoor environmental quality. The 
structures beautifully demonstrate 
how to work within our natural envi- 

The work of 150 DGIF wildlife and 
fisheries professionals further sup- 
ports preservation of habitat and bio- 
diversity so critical to conservation 
medicine across the commonwealth. 
This work occurs in 36 additional 
WMAs, numerous public locations, 
programs with individual Icmdown- 
ers, and special projects — including 
new research into waterfowl dis- 
eases, species population manage- 
ment, a Wildlife Action Plan identify- 
ing over 900 species of need, efforts to 
eradicate invasive species, and efforts 
to fight ruinous wildlife diseases like 
White-Nose Syndrome in bats. 
Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, and 
Chytrid Fungus in amphibians. 

Wildlife Resources Bureau Direc- 
tor David Whitehurst sums it up: 
"VCU's Conservation Medicine Pro- 
gram affords all collaborating part- 
ners an extraordinary opportunity to 
come together in an innovative, inter- 
disciplinary manner to make signifi- 
cant contributions to our health and 
that of our environment. The efforts 
of these ecological caregivers are 
truly something special." 

Darwin would applaud, "This is 
the right direction! " D 

Marie ami Milan Majarov ( 
are clinical p^sychologists, nature enthusiasts, 
and members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers 
Associatio)! who live in Winchester. 




Wliile appreciating the 

spring woods, you 

just might stumble across 

a gourmet delight. 

by Cristina Santiestevan 

♦/ found my first morel by acci- 
^ / dent. Well, that's not entirely 
^^^ true. I had been looking for 
weeks; trudging through the chilly 
pre-spring forest, wearing out my 
eyes and jumping every time I spot- 
ted a walnut shell among the mess of 
last fall's leaves. Finally, in mid-April, 
I looked up from tying my shoelace 
and there was my first morel. 

Such a surprise appearance is pret- 
ty typical for these elusive forest 
mushrooms. "They just sort of appear 
when they feel like appearing," ex- 
plains Amy Coins, an experienced 
forager who offered some tips before 
my first forays. What Coins means is 
that morels are founti on their own 
terms, and only when they are ready 
to be found. As if the mushrooms 
have a say in the matter. 

Talking with Coins over the 
phone, I thought this attitude was a 
little strange. After just one season of 
morel hunting, I've changed my 
mind. The mushrooms are definitely 
in charge. 

If you have never spotted a morel, 
there is good reason for that. These 
mushrooms are very hard to see. In 
shades of browns and yellows and 
grays, morels make their brief appear- 
ance in the early spring, when most of 
the forest is still brown and yellow 
and gray. Along with their cryptic col- 
oring, morels wrap themselves in 
wrinkles and folds that blend almost 
perfectly with the ridges and furls of 


X^heve to ^looU 

Morels begin emerging in the early spring, 
but the exact dates can vary from year to 
year. For the best luck, Look towards the 
trees and wildflowers for clues on timing: 

♦ Morels begin to appear about the same 
time that redbuds begin to bloom. 

♦ Some insist that morel season is in full 
swing by the time the May apples have 
fully opened. 

♦ When the dogwoods are done bloom- 
ing, the morels are also done. 

♦ Elevation matters a great deal, so look 
for clues near the same elevation that 
you will hunt for morels. 

Morels grow just about anywhere, including 
the occasional lawn or roadside ditch. For 
the best luck, however, look for these 

♦ Morels often grow near mature tulip 
poplars, ash, cherries, sycamores or 

♦ Live and newly-dead elms appear to be 
especially lucrative. 

♦ Moist areas are best. 

♦ Old apple and pear orchards my be very 
productive, especially if the orchards 
are maintained organically. 

dried leaves, twigs, and half-eaten 
nuts. I found dozens of walnut shells 
before I found my first morel, for ex- 
ample. For one glorious moment I 
would believe I'd found a morel, 
only to bend closer and pick up yet 
another walnut. Finally, morels are 
tiny Most morels are about the size of 
an adult's thumb, more or less. Some 
can grow much larger, but these are 

But none of this should deter you. 
Morels may be hard to find, but they 
are absolutely worth the effort. These 
little wild mushrooms are incredible 
in the kitchen, whether sauteed sim- 
ply in butter, folded into an omelet, or 
mixed with thyme and rice to create a 
savory risotto. 


I'd never tasted a fresh morel be- 
fore last spring, when dreams of 
sauteed morels inspired me to pull 
on my boots and hike into the woods. 
The early springtime forest can be a 
difficult place to travel. There are mo- 
ments of sparkling beauty and wel- 
coming warmth, but cold, gray, and 
damp days are much more common. 
I slid down mud-slicked hills and got 
caught in unexpected rain showers 
more than once. Those early — and 
fruitless — morel hunts generally left 
me wet and exhausted, but also vi- 
brantly happy. Because, while the 
morels (I reaUzed later) were still 
sleeping in the cold soil, the forest's 
wildflowers were springing to life. 
During those morel-less hikes, I 
found spring beauty, tootliwort and 
hepatica in full bloom. I discovered a 
patch of bloodwort clinging to life in 
a ridge of leaf mold atop a boulder. 1 
learned to identify orchids, and 
watched fern leaves unfurl into the 
timid rays of sunlight. And then, 
about the time the spicebush erupted 
into a wild haze of green and yellow, 1 
began to find morels. 

If you want to skip the cold, yet 
wildflower-rich, early hikes, wait for 
the redbuds to bloom. This is fantas- 
tic advice, which I completely ig- 
nored. I began watching the redbuds 
by late February, practically willing 
those buds to burst open. By the time 
the branches had turned deep purple 
with swollen but unopened buds, I 
was already trudging through the 
woods, in hot pursuit of a mushroom 
that was still dormant. Not until the 
redbuds burst forth into ecstatic dis- 
plays of frothy pink did I find my first 

The advice is good advice: Wait 
for the redbuds to bloom. If you do 
insist on hitting the trail early — ^be- 
cause you never know — take along a 
wildflower guide. Or, if you are a 
turkey hunter, combine the two ac- 
tivities. Morel season often overlaps 
with spring turkey season. 

"You end up with a lot of turkey 
hunters who become morel hunters," 
explains Goins. 



Morels, I've been told, prefer to 
grow among stands of mattire tulip 
poplars on eastern-facing slopes. 
This may be so, but it's nothing I can 
confirm. Almost all of my family's 
land — twenty acres in total — slopes 
toward the east, and approximately 
half the trees are mature tulip 
poplars. According to the advice I'd 
been given, this was prime morel 
habitat. And so, I began my hunt with 
the wild belief that I would find the 
forest literally carpeted with morels. 
Twenty acres of morels. 

This is not what I found. Rather 
than sweeping expanses of morels, I 
found small patches of the mush- 
rooms far separated from one anoth- 
er. The tulip poplars appeared to 
have no say in the matter. Instead, I 
found morels beneath elms — both 
live and dead — near cherries, and 
wildly abundant in several groves of 
paw paws. In the shadow of one 
giant ash, I found a half-dozen enor- 
mous morels, each one bigger than 
the last and none smaller than my 
hand. And then, there was the one 
morel I spotted while driving along 
my road. There it was, growing hap- 
pily in the hot sun, surrounded by 
gravel and dust. Not a tulip poplar to 
be seen. 

None of this means that stands of 
tulip poplars are a bad place to look. 
They are simply not the ouhf place to 
look. In addition to tulip poplars, ash, 
elms, and cherries, I was advised to 
look for morels in old apple orchards, 
beneath sycamore trees, and around 
aspen or maple. The best piece of ad- 
vice was also the simplest: You will 
find morels where you expect to find 
them. Why? Because that is where 
you will look the hardest. So, if you 
enter the woods only expecting to 
find morels beneath tulip poplars 
and elms, you will probably miss the 
ones that have sprung up among the 
paw paws and beneath the ash trees. 

If you still aren't finding morels. 
Coins offers this advice: "Slow down, 
sit down, and wipe that desperate 
look off your face. It's a Zen thing. 
Morel hunting is a Zen experience." 

Wherever yovi look, be sure to 
carry the one essential piece of morel 
hunting equipment: a mesh bag or a 
loosely woven basket. Morels — like 
all mushrooms — spread by tiny air- 
borne spores. Confine your harvest 
to a plastic or paper bag, and you wiU 
prevent those spores from hitting the 
forest floor and making new morels. 
Thus, it is essential morel-hunter-eti- 
quette to use mesh bags or baskets, 
spreading morel spore wherever 
your foraging takes you. Some for- 
agers also carry a long stick or walk- 
ing staff for poking through the 
leaves and a small knife for harvest- 
ing the morels. I skipped the walking 
stick but did carry a small pocket 
knife, which I used to carefully slice 
through each morel's stem above the 
soil. If you prefer to work without a 
knife, the morels can be harvested by 
hand, but care should be taken to en- 
sure that the underground growth is 
not disturbed. Like all mushrooms, 
the majority of the morel organism 
lives beneath the soil and should be 
left unharmed to ensure that morels 
will continue to grow in this spot for 
years to come. 

Morels are a good mushroom for 
novice foragers, because they are so 
difficult to confuse with any other 
mushroom. Train your eyes to recog- 
nize the little mushrooms by spend- 
ing some time studying photographs 
of morels. Or, set a store-bought ciried 
morel in a realistic setting aiid prac- 
tice seeing it. Better yet, 
team up with a friend ^ ^ 
and play "find the ^ * 

morel." The trick 
is to teach your 
eyes to recog- 
nize the ver- 
tical ridges 
and wrinkles 
of a healthy 

The only 
that looks re- 
motely like a 
morel is the 
false morel. 

True morel ©Cristlna Santiestevan 

Above, a true morel flourishes beneath an ash tree late in the season. 

Below, cutleaf toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, blooms in Virginia woods during morel season. 

^ivc to be an ^id ^Yfjushvoom punter 

Many wild mushrooms are delicious, but others can be famously toxic. "This is not a 
hobby to take lightly," warns Amy, who believes morels are a very safe choice for 
novice foragers. There are many ways to learn about foraging for mushrooms and 
other wild edibles. Here are a few ideas to get started: 

Join a club 

Mycological Association of Washington 

Read some guidebooks 

Be sure to choose a guide book with high-quality photos of North American 
mushrooms. Amy recommends the National Audubon Society Field 
Guide to North American Muslirooms. 

Learn more online 





These toxic look-alikes are generally a 
bit larger than true morels and have a 
rounder, more brain-like head. The 
true test is the state of the stem: True 
morels have clean, hollow stems and heads 
while false morels are filled with a spongy 
mass of tissue. Thus, if in doubt, simply 
slice your mushroom in half, from top 
to bottom. 

Once you've confirmed that there 
are no false morels in your harvest, 
you can begin to think about eating 
these tasty mushrooms. While some 
will insist that morels should never be 
washed, I soaked most of my harvest 
in salt water, which helped remove 
any small bugs. After soaking for a 
few minutes, I would pat the morels 
dry with a towel and begin to cook 
them. I experimented with several 
recipes — a mushroom and wine 
sauce for steak, risotto, an omelet — 
but the best way to eat them was also 
the simplest: sauteed in butter, per- 
haps with a little dried thyme for sea- 
soning. However you cook them, you 
must cook them. Morels can be mildly 
toxic if eaten raw and may cause se- 
vere nausea, cramping or worse. 
Cooked, though, morels are com- 
pletely safe and absolutely delicious. 

The morel season is unfortunately 
a short-lived affair and generally runs 
its course within a few weeks. You 
may extend your harvest time by ven- 
tiiring into higher or lower elevations, 
but nothing will extend the season be- 
yond the first real heat of the year. By 
the end of May, the morels will be 
gone. If your morel experience is any- 
thing like mine, you will immediately 
begin thinking about the next season, 
promising yourself that, next time, 
you will wait until the redbuds 
bloom. Except, you won't. Impa- 
tience, hope and memories of sauteed 
morels will lure you into the forest too 
early. That's okay. Enjoy the wildflow- 
ers, listen for turkeys, and 
watch the forest wake up. 
Soon, the morels will be 

IZ back. D 

Cristiua Santiestevaii writes 
about wildlife and the environment 
from her home in Virginia's Blue 
Ridge Mountains. 

HunUey Meadows 

by King Montgomery 

Huntley Meadows in Fairfax 
County is a 1,500-acre forest, 
meadow, and central wetland 
park open to the public at no charge. 
An oasis in Hybla Valley amid the 
densely populated suburbs spanning 
Alexandria to Springfield, it offers a 
brief, invigorating escape from the 
concrete, asphalt, and gas fumes that 
all too often characterize Northern 
Virginia. Huntley Meadows offers 
wildlife and bird watching, a place to 
enjoy the outdoors, and a sense of 

APRIL 2010 

tranquility that I believe is its most 
distinguishing feature. 

The list of plants and creatures 
found in the park is impressive: 200 
plus species of birds, including shore- 
birds and waterfowl; almost 70 
species of butterflies; 22 kinds of 
dragonflies and 8 types of dam- 
selflies; 34 mammal species; 30 vari- 
eties of reptiles and amphibians; 23 
species of fish; and countless insects 
of all description. I always check my 
camera settings as I walk the trail 
from the Visitors Center. 

The centerpiece of Huntley Mead- 

ows is an expansive marsh — a wet- 
land with many tendrils that pulse 
throughout a large portion of the 
property. Here, beavers maintain 
small dams that keep water in for 
much of the year while allowing their 
levels to fluctuate from very wet to al- 
most dry, depending on weather con- 


The land where Huntley Meadows 
now sits once was owned by Francis 
Mason, grandson of George Mason, 
the Revolutionary War patriot from 



Virginia. During the American Civil 
War, the estate, like much of North- 
em Virginia, remained in Union con- 
trol. In the winter of 1861, troops of 
the 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment 
camped on the meadows and the 
nearby Huntley House served as 
their headquarters. 

The U.S. government acquired the 
land in the 1940s, and it was used by 
the Bureau of Public Roads and, later, 
the Virginia National Guard. In 1970, 
the federal government declared the 
acreage surplus, and, under the 
Land-for-Parks Program, ceded it to 
Fairfax County in 1975. With pur- 
chase of 163 additional acres by the 
Fairfax County Parks Authority, the 
boundaries of Huntley Meadows 
Park were formed. 

With that history, it is clear the 
park was not a pristine gem of wild- 
ness, but with a little coddling, dedi- 
cation by park personnel, and a large 

volunteer base, Huntley Meadows 
Park has become a refuge for nature 
to reclaim and display its wares. 

Fauna & Flora 

It had been awhile since I visited the 
park, so it was a mild shock when I 
cleared the woods and stepped onto 
the boardwalk that courses the 
marsh. The inlet to the right, once 
filled with water, was instead home 
to reeds, cattails, and other grasses. 
Continuing along the wooden path, I 
could see the great marsh in the cen- 
ter of the park was much diminished. 
In recent years, beavers had not kept 
up with needed engineering tasks to 
sequester water and, coupled with a 
multi-year drought, the marsh spent 
much time almost dry. 

Park naturalist Suzanne Malone 
reports the beavers are back now and 
hard at work. A wet fall and winter 
are keeping the wetlands at optimum @ 

©King Mo ntgomery 

conditions. But experience has 
shown that you can't count on 

Permit reviews are currently 
pending that would allow construc- 
tion to better control water levels in 
the park. That construction would 
create an earthen berm, a stormwater 
spillway, several wetland pools, and 
enhanced habitat in upland and low- 
land areas. Structures are designed to 
look as natural as possible, and while 
the construction timetable is not yet 
firm, the park remains a wonderful 
place to visit. 

In fact, Huntley Meadows is one 
of the most unique avian environ- 
ments in Northern Virginia, particu- 
larly for marsh birds. Ducks and 
geese, and various shorebirds^ — 
mostly great blue herons and white 
egrets — continue to work the area for 
the vegetation, insects, frogs, and 
fishes that fed them. Overhead, sight- 
ings of bald eagles and osprey are 
common. Red-wing blackbirds twit- 
ter in the cattails and a variety of 
birds, small and large, flit about. 

As you walk the half-mile board- 
walk, you're also apt to see tadpoles, 
frogs, snakes, muskrat, raccoons, 
white-tailed deer, and the occasional 
beaver. It is a great place to escape 
from the daily travails of city living; 
and, of course, a dose of nature al- 
ways is good for the soul. 

Huntley Meadows flaunts a color- 
ful array of wildflowers from spring 
through fall. Some 320 species have 
been identified, from the common 
yellow dandelion to the elegant car- 
dinal flower, a bright red rivaling Vir- 
ginia's state bird. The flowers attract 
nectar-eating birds and insects, and 
beauty-loving visitors of all ages. 

Many trees add their share of scent 
and color to the park, from the wispy 
pink flowers of the mimosa to the 
blossoming dogwoods. 

Programs aAmenifles 

The Visitors Center off the Lockheed 
Blvd. entrance blends in tastefully 
with the park. Start your visit here by 
looking at the informative, interac- 
tive displays. Lectures, seminars, and 
photo shows are routinely offered in 
the classroom and auditorium; na- 
ture walks are conducted by a park 
naturalist or one of the volunteers. 
Wide, well-maintained paths and 
boardwalks also make much of the 
park wheelchair accessible. 

The park offers volunteer posi- 
tions and coordinates volunteer ac- 
tivities with the 400-member Friends 
of Huntley Meadows. The group 
dedicates their efforts to protecting 
and preserving the park, and educat- 
ing the public about this unique eco- 
logical phenomenon. 

Children's groups are particularly 
encouraged to visit, and various area 
schools bus young students to the 
park to enjoy the outdoors and learn 
while having fun. It is very encourag- 
ing to see kids wide-eyed with 
amazement at what nature has to 
offer, often for the first time. Sadly, 
today's many electronic diversions — 
televisions, computers, cell phones — 
occupy the body and precious time, 
but steal from the mind. 

At Huntley Meadows Park there 
are no video games. There are no ca- 
noes or float tubes to rent, and there 
are no hot dog stands. Those who 
visit here find ample fascination in all 
that nature has to offer and move qui- 
etly to preserve the reverent hush 
that pervades this much-needed 

King Montgomery is an outdoor I travel 
writer and photographer from Burke. He likes 
the fact that park traffic is limited to birds and 
animals and the people who appreciate tliem. 

Park Information 

Huntley Meadows Visitors Center 

APRIL 2010 

• Huntley Meadows Park:; 703-768-2525. 
The Visitors Center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. 
Hours vary according to season. You may visit the park every day of the year 
from dawn to dark. 

^ Friends of Huntley Meadows:, 
703-768-2525. The Friends have a full program of volunteer and educational 
activities at the park. 



story and photos 
by Gail Brown 

Hunters and others familiar 
with woodland quiet 
might try to identify two- 
legged or four-legged visitors on the 
nature trail behind the Dickenson 
County Career Center (DCCC) in 
Clinchco. With a massive mountain 
providing a backdrop to the trail on 
one side, and a thick cover of oak, 
maple, beech, yellow poplar, 
sycamore, and hickory blocking 
views from the other, visitors to the 
trail find themselves tucked away in 
another world. Accurately predicting 
what ventures between mountain 
and stream is left to those with keener 
senses — most of the time. 

But not on S.M.A.R.T. Day! On 
S.M.A.R.T. Day the quiet gives way 
to squeals of laughter, shouted ques- 
tions, bouncing feet, and echoed an- 
swers — all followed by more of the 
same. On this one day each October 
anyone in Dickenson County who 
happens by the school would tell 
you, "Oh, that's just the fourth 
graders doing science." 



i i\yNaturaUy 

A career center in Dickenson 
County prepares students with 
Yea! world' skills. 

And while that's right, everyone's 
learning lots of other things at every 
corner of the campus, too. On 
S.M.A.R.T. Day students and teach- 
ers at the career center bring the 
county's fourth graders to campus 
for hands-on, exciting lessons in sci- 

ence, math, art, reading, and technol- 
ogy. The goal is to help their young 
guests understand that each one of 
them is smart, can achieve what they 
set out to do, and can learn best when 
they use all of their senses, especially 
their sense of fun. 

Students build (and sell!) a 3-bedroom home each year, and funds are applied 
to construction materials. Cooperation is the cornerstone of their success. 


^ '<-••''' 

Carpentry students built this sign. Small Engines classes maintain the trail. 

» - *^~« 

*v*- -Jt 


All this helps make S.M.A.R.T. 
DAY a success and the nature trail, 
still a work in progress, one of the 
most impressive initiatives of its kind 
in the state. That elusive "something 
more" that pushes any great enter- 
prise over the top to superior can be 
teased out by listening to the stu- 
dents. Cody Winebarger states: "I re- 
ally enjoyed the nature trail. I grew 
up in nature... hunting, playing, or 
just walking; either way... I love the 
nature trail. Working on it was tough, 
but in the end, it was worth it." 

Once envisioned, there was never 
a doubt that the entire center would 
get behind the trail, a project that 
grew to include an outdoor class- 
room, concrete pathways, two 

Nursing students help each other learn 
important skills. 

bridges, tree identification signs, bird 
houses and feeders, and education 
stations. Each specialty contributed 
to the project. Drafting classes de- 
signed several benches and bridges. 
Welding classes built both bridges 
and gates; one, a 54-foot metal bridge 
across the stream and the other, a 17- 
foot bridge with flooring made of re- 
cycled material donated by Dicken- 
son County Litter Control. Masonry 
classes built concrete platforms for 
the bridges and also built the outdoor 
classroom which was wired by the 
electricity classes. Carpentry built 
tree identification posts, birdhouses, 
feeders, and the trail entrance sign; 
they also built a picnic table for the 
outdoor classroom and benches for 

APRIL 2010 


Using tools correctly and safely is 

"I really enjoyed working on 
the nature trail because of 
the natural beauty of the 
creek and forest." 

Joseph Kirberg 

the trail. Exploratory classes created 
posters and artwork for the entrance 
sign and raised money for the con- 
crete sidewalk leading from the out- 
door classroom to the basketball 
court. (Yes, the kids built all that, too!) 
Nursing students monitor the water 
at the stream. 

While all of the buildings the stu- 
dents have worked on mean a great 
deal to them, the nature trail will al- 
ways be a work in progress and, as 
such, continues to provide opportu- 
nities for new students to add their 
touch. Keidra Gulley offers: "I think 
kids like the nature trail a lot because 
everyone has the opportunity to 
work on it. We all got together and 
built a pretty good waterfall. At first it 
was sort of hard to get going, but fi- 
nally we got the hang of it." 

Joseph Kirberg adds, "I really en- 
joyed working on the nature trail be- 
cause of the natural beauty of the 
creek and forest." 

While learning to work as a team 
is a challenge for any group, at DCCC 
it became the cornerstone of their 
achievements. At the center, students 
arrive from three different area 
schools to attend morning or aiter- 

Students taking Auto Service and 
Technology and Auto Collision and 
Repair can work on their own cars. 

noon sessions. The fact that students 
take the majority of their classes in a 
specific skill area, yet see the big pic- 
ture and scale up or down their con- 
tribution, indicates the magnitude of 

You can see and hear nature all along 
the trail. 

S.M.A.R.T. Day activities include learning to take care of the environment. At DCCC 
students reuse materials whenever possible. 



Some S.M.A.R.T. Day activities are chal- 
lenging. Some are unusual. All are fun! 

their success. No doubt, team effort 
was one of the key factors in the cen- 
ter's ability to nail down the "Region- 
al 2007 Creating Excellence Award 
for Career and Technical Education" 
for their greenhouse project. That 
project, which included the green- 
house and a classroom, is another 
prime example of how students from 
various disciplines work together to 
accomplish group goals. Today any- 
one wanting to help at any time can 
roll up their sleeves and join in the ef- 
fort: there's always work to do to 
make things better, as each year more 
flowers and vegetables are added to 
the "lef s try to grow this" list. 

Across campus sits the largest 
building the students have designed 
and constructed: a 3700-square-foot, 
multi-activity Student and Commu- 
nity Center complete with bath- 
rooms, kitchen, storage areas, and a 
stage. Available to both the school 
and community and valued at 
$165,000, the building was used by 
over 1,000 people the first year it 

"It's fun to work on projects like 
the student center," states Leanna 

Rasnake, "because we get to use the 
things we build." Before the center 
reached completion, individuals, 
businesses, and local and state agen- 
cies stepped forward to prc^vide 
what might be needed in the way of 
additional funds and other support. 
For their efforts, DCCC was recog- 
mzed once again by taking home the 
"Regional 2008 Creating Excellence 
Award for Career and Technical Ed- 
ucation" and, in 2009, with tlie "Cre- 
ating Excellence Award for Business 

The Student and Community 
Center recently served as a gathering 
place for over 200 area educators dis- 
cussing such topics as reforestation 
of the American chestnut. It was dur- 
ing work on this project that the de- 
sire to get more involved in steward- 
ship efforts such as cleaning up the 
landfill and building the nature trail 
and outdoor classroom came to 
fruition. It's clear that at DCCC "if 
you want to see the forest for the 
trees," you need to take a step closer, 
not back, and you need to follow the 
concrete walks as well as the 
mulched trail. All will lead you to ex- 
amples of what the staff, students. 

and administration can accomplish 
by working together on projects tliat 
allow diem to build on their talents 
and interests. 

The fact that many DCCC stu- 
dents achieve success at the district, 
state, and even national levels in 
Skills-USA competitions speaks well 
for the education students receive at 
die center. Most importantly, the stu- 
dents at DCCC believe the skills and 
knowledge diey are working toward 
will lead to future employment and 

"The career center is great if you 
like hands-on learning," states stvi- 

Mancel Powers explains that he 
chose electricity class "because it is 
hands-on experience and electricians 
get good pay." 

Courtney Bell agrees, saying, "1 
think DCCC is a great place to leam a 

The students are right: they are 
learning importaiit skills. If you look 
carefully, you can't help but notice 
they are learning so much more. D 

Gail Broion is a retired teacher and school 

As a Virginia Naturally School, DCCC students work hard to educate others about 
good stewardship practices. ^ 

APRIL 2010 



in THAT 

by Jason Hallacher 

It's spring. There is a chill in the air, 
and I shiver with anticipation 
over the day of fishing ahead. The 
water is dark with freshly stocked 
trout. I grip my fishing pole tightly, 
patiently waiting for first light. I'm 10 
years old and this is as good as it gets. 
Countless trips like these with my 
dad, elbow to elbow with other an- 
glers, are burned into my memory, 
shaping me into the outdoorsman I 
am today. 

Despite these powerful memories 
of visiting popular, local fishing 
holes, I also remember growing tired 
of tangled lines and occasional argu- 
ments over errant casts. Soon 
enough, I started to wander from 
highly populated areas to find my 
own secret fishing spots. By avoiding 
the crowds, 1 not only caught fish but 
learned that you don't have to see the 
fish to catch the fish. 

I take these lessons into considera- 
tion now that it is my job to help stock 
trout. As an agency, our Department 
works hard to provide a great recre- 
ational experience for anyone who 
chooses to pick up a fishing pole. 
Since I started working here, howev- 
er, I've been hearing recurring com- 
ments from trout anglers: "If I can't 
get to the creek when the stocking 
truck shows up, there's no sense in 
fishing," or just as likely, "This 
stream's all fished out." 

Despite these sentiments, I was 
convinced there were plenty of fish to 
catch based on past sampling experi- 
ences. However, without a properly 
designed study there was no way to 
know how long the trout actually re- 
mained after a stocking took place. 

In the fall of 2007, we set out to ed- 
ucate ourselves and the anglers of the 
commonwealth about stocked trout 
retention, to answer that nagging 
question. To find out, we designed a 
simple study on a Category B stocked 
trout stream (category determines 
stocking frequency). We knew that 
fishing pressure varied between 
streams, so we chose a stream with 
excellent access. To determine how 
long the trout remain in the stream 
after a stocking, we sampled three, 
100-meter sections of the stream on 
the 3rd, 7th, and 14th day after the 
stocking took place. Stream sampling 
involves the use of specialized, elec- 
tro fishing equipment, which sends 
an electric current through the water 
and temporarily stuns the fish, allow- 
ing biologists to easily capture them. 
By doing this, we can estimate how 
many fish might occupy a given 
stretch of waterway. 

During the first sample I didn't 
know what to expect. I assumed that 
we would capture quite a few fish. 
After acclimating to their new sur- 
roundings, though, the trout found 
plenty of places to hide. But soon 
after we started electro shocking. 

Dwight Dyke 

trout began floating out of all sorts of 
underwater nooks and crannies — 
confirming what I'd learned as a boy; 
that just because you can't see them 
doesn't mean they aren't there. 

We found that trout are removed 
or harvested at a relatively consistent 
rate over time, and that this is similar 
across the seasons. The bottom line: If 
you fish within a two-week period 
after a stocking takes place, you have 
an excellent opportunity to catch 
your limit of trout. Further research 
on Category A and Category C 
streams yielded similar results. 

So, find a free day to hit one of the 
stocked trout waters nearby. More 
importantly, take a kid fishing and 
enjoy Virginia's great outdoors to- 
gether! D 

Jason Hallacher is a senior fisheries technician 
wiih the Department. 

Category B Stocked Trout Abundance 

Days After Stocking 







2010 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on our 
website at or call 


April 3: Trout Heritage Day. 

April 3: Kids Fishing Heritage Day, 
Graves Mountain Lodge. For more 
information call (540) 923-4231. 

April 3: Youth Spring Turkey Hunt 
Day. For ages 15 and younger. 

April 10: Spring turkey season opens. 

April 15, 17, 22, 24, & 27: An Introduc- 
tion to Flozoer Photography and 
April 29, May 1, 6, 8, & il: Flash 
Chnic: How to Use our Camera's Flash, 
both with Lynda Richardson at Lewis 
Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond. 
Go to and look 
under Adult Education for classes, or 
call (804) 262-9887, x322. 

April 17-18: 10th annual Virginia Fly 
Fishing Festival, Waynesboro; 
ww^w.vaflyfishingfesti val .org. 

April 24: Youth Shooting and Adult 
Sporting Clay Tournament, Quail and 
Upland Wildlife Federation, Shady 
Grove Sporting Clays, Remington. 
For registration and information: or 

May 7-9: Great Dismal Swamp Birding 
Festival, Suffolk; 
northeast / greatdismalswamp / . 

May 8: International Migratory Bird 
Celebration, Chincoteagvie National 
Wildlife Refuge, www.chincoteague / 

May 14-16: Becoming an Outdoors- 
Womaif'\ Graves Mountain Lodge. 
Ages 18 and up. 

May 15: Spring turkey season closes. 

May 21-23: Mountain Lake Migratory 
Bird Festival, Pembroke; 

May 22-28: National Safe Boating 
Week, n 

by Beth Hester 

Turkey Calls and Calling: 
A Guide to Improiung Your 
Turkey-Talking Skills 

by Steve Hickoff 


Stackpole Books 


"Wlien you successfidly converse with a 
spring gobbler, or autumn or winter wild 
turkey, you've crossed over into a mean- 
ingful realm uiirivaled in the hunting 
tradition. Using }na)unade calls to talk 
with a wild turkey in the bird's own lan- 
guage, in order to lure that quarry into 
your setup position is pretty amazing 

- Steve Hickoff 

Let's talk turkey. The language spo- 
ken by one of our country's most 
tasty birds is diverse, and nuanced, 
with seasonal and situational varia- 
tions thrown in just to make things 
more interesting. Turkey poults 
begin to make sounds while still in- 
side their eggs, and brood hens em- 
ploy a special 'yelp' that encourages 
the chicks to hatch and helps to ce- 
ment the linguistic bond. 

When you become familiar with 
the ways in which turkey vocaliza- 
tions are combined with the myriad 
other noises they make, the challenge 
is on to lure the birds within range 
with your own convincing imita- 

Added to the enjoyment is the 
vast range of manmade devices used 
to help call in the birds. Friction calls, 
mouth diaphragms, wing-bone, and 
trumpet calls are satisfying to master 
and fun to collect. Several styles of 
calls can also be crafted by the hunter, 
making their use in the field even 
more rewarding. 

Whether you are a beginning 
turkey hunter or are simply lookiiig 
to acivance your calling repertoire, 
Steve Hickoff's new guide is perfect. 
Think of this volume as the hunting 
equivalent of a Berlitz® guide; by 
reading it and practicing the recom- 
mended techniques and tactics, 
you'll be better prepared to meet our 
wary, feathered friends on their own 

Steve, who is a regular contribu- 
tor to Outdoor Life magazine, covers 
every aspect of turkey calling: a brief 
history of the calling tradition, learn- 
ing turkey vocabulary, types of calls 
and their use, situational strategies, 
and turkey hunting resources. The 
book is liberally illustrated with col- 
orful photographs and helpful dia- 
grams which bring the text to Ufe, and 
Hickoff thoughtfully includes a well- 
chosen bibliography for readers who 
want to further explore turkey hunt- 
ing and tvu-key lore. D 

For a free email subscription, visit 

our website at 

Click on the Outdoor Report link and 

simply fill in the required information. 

APRIL 2010 


Trees Teach Kids with 


Project Plant It! 


This spring, nature's tallest denizens 
will instruct almost 30,000 third 
graders across the commonwealth 
about the important role of trees in 
the ecosystem, with some help from 
Project Plant It! — an environmental 
education program developed by 
Dominion Virginia Power. During 
the week of Arbor Day, each partici- 
pating student receives a tree 
seedling from Dominion. 

Now in its fourth year, Project 
Plant It! has more than quadrupled 
in size and scope. The program fea- 
tures a comprehensive teacher kit, 
mailed early in 2010, packed with 
creative instructional tools such as 
lesson plans, posters, a DVD, certifi- 
cates, stickers, and more. All teach- 
ing materials align with Virginia 
Standards of Learning for the third- 
grade core curriculum subjects of 
science, math, language arts, and so- 
cial studies. 

A fun and interactive website, is filled 
with games, reading lists, family ac- 
tivities, and even videos narrated by 
Dominion foresters. The tree 
seedlings are shipped to schools in 
late April, in plenty of time for distri- 
bution to students on Arbor Day 
(April 30) so that kids can make a 
personal contribution to their local 

Many school systems through- 
out Virginia are enrolled in Project 
Plant It!, but even teachers in outly- 
ing areas can easily participate by 
downloading all of the lesson plans 
from the website. Also, these teach- 
ers can order up to 30 tree seedlings 
online while supplies last. 

Experts from the Virginia De- 
partment of Forestry estimate that 75 
acres of new forestland would be 
created if all 30,000 seedlings are 
planted. D 

This report was avitrihiited by Sara Hunt for 
Dominion Virginia Power. 


"We've got to cut the rope, the 
anchor is caught on something." 

Roanoke River Renaissance 

The second annual Roanoke River 
Renaissance will be held Saturday, 
May 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 
Wasena Park in Roanoke. Ken In- 
gram, organizer for the event put on 
by the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the 
Float Fishermen of Virginia (RV- 
FFV), said the inaugural affair is held 
to celebrate the removal of the dam at 
Wasena Park and to promote contin- 
uing efforts to extend a greenway 
along the urban waterway. 

Ingram relates that ongoing goals 
include increasing awareness of the 
paddUng, fishing, birding, biking, and 
wildlife watching opportunities that 
exist within the stream's urban corri- 
dor through Salem and Roanoke. 
Events planned include seminars on 
river safety (involving such topics as 
proper equipment and river rescue 
tips) and outdoor cooking and fishing 
instruction. Outdoor recreation ven- 
dors will also be present. 

This float will be from Salem Ro- 
tary Park on Route 419 to Wasena 
Park in downtown Roanoke. The 
RV-FFV will provide shuttles and op- 
erate a hospitality booth at Wasena. 

For more information, go to: / rvc / . D 

r/;/'s report was contributed by Bruce bigrain. 




iouindl Co 


from 1i.»3.»^ im 

Are Available in Limited Supply 

$26.75 per edition (includes S/H) 
Pa y by Check Only to : 

Treasurer of Virginia 

Mail to : 

Virginia Wildlife Magazine 

P.O.Box 11104, 
Richmond. VA 23230- 1 104 

Include your full name, daytime 

phone, and USPS shipping address. 

Reference Item No. VW-230 and the 

year(s) you are purchasing. 

Please allow 3 weeks for 
receipt of order. 

J?ou ought to be in pictures! 

Do you have some great photos 
of your kids in the outdoors, hunting 

or fishing or wildlife watching? 

If so, consider sharing your best 

one with the readers of 

Virginia Wildlife. We will showcase 

your photograph, along with a 

caption, in an upcoming issue. 

Please send to: 
Virginia Wildlife Magctzine 

AHN: Editor 

P.O. Box 11104 

Richmond, VA 23230-1104 

Please include a brief description 

of the photograph, along with a 

daytime phone number if we have 

any questions, and a SASE 

if you want your print 

or CD returned to you, 



/I number of you have emailed 
#1 my website commenting on 
some of the advice I've given about 
dog training and puppy raising. Your 
emails have been both flattering and 
enlightening for two reasons: One, it 
appears most of you have felt my ad- 
vice has been pretty good; and two, 
you humans generally accept what- 
ever you feel is good advice no mat- 
ter wlicrc it comes from — even a dog! 

I also get the feeling there must be 
some hunting and fishing "widows" 
out there and that a dog is not just 
majj's best friend. . . because a iimjoriti/ 
of the emails have come from woineiil 

I thought it would be a good train- 
ing process if I shared some of these 
emails with you in order to improve 
not only dog and human interaction, 
but also to help minimize the time 
you humans spend in tlie proverbial 

Dear Luke, 

I was having a conversation with 
my new boyfriend the other night 
while my Pomeranian was seated 
next to us. During the conversation, 
there was a word that I did not want 
my dog to recognize so I spelled it. 
My boyfriend thought it rather odd 
that I would spell a word in front of 
a dog. Am I going crazy thinking 
that a dog will not understand what 
I say if I spell the word? 

Nancy M., Norfolk 

Dear Nancy, 

Dogs certainly do understand certain 
words and commands. Depending 
on the dog and how much hme you 
have spent with it in training or, in 
your case, conversation, a dog will 

develop a surprising vocabulary. If 
you don't want your dog to under- 
stand what you are saying, try leani- 
ing an obscure foreign language be- 
cause Pomeranians are good spellers. 
However, spelling in front of your 
boyfriend may be good practice for 
him if you are thinking of making 
him your husband. 1 have heard 
many wives say to each other, "He 
just didn't get it until 1 sphiled it out for 
him I" 

Dear Luke, 

My husband, who is retired, just fell 
out of his tree stand while deer 
hunting and broke a leg and two 
ribs. It's lucky the old fool didn't kill 
himself! Now he is hanging around 
the house all day in a foul mood be- 
cause he cannot go hunting. What 
do you recommend to keep him oc- 
cupied and out of my hair? 

Alice B., Chesterfield 

Dear Alice, 

I don't know what it is about humans 
climbing trees to shoot a deer. You 
would think that a man in his 60s 
would know that deer don't live in 
trees! Squirrels do, but to me they are 
hardly worth the effort of tree climb- 
ing. My suggestion is to get him a 
book by some great outdoor writers- 
like Nash Buckingham, Robert 
Ruark, Havilah Babcock (a native 
Virginian), or Gene Hill. Try to keep 
him in the books and out of trees. 

Dear Luke, 

Please help us with this dilemma! 
Our young daughter, for some 
strange reason, has gotten this de- 
sire to go hunting. We have encour- 

aged her to be more like her two 
older brothers who have just started 
ballet lessons. She insists however, 
on getting an English setter puppy 
and training it so the two of them 
can — of all things — go grouse hunt- 
ing. You see our problem. What can 
we do??? 

Mr. & Mrs. H., Clifton 

Dear Mr. & Mrs. H, 
I see your problem clearly, but I am 
afraid I will not be able to help your 
sons as quickly as you would like. 
My instructional ballet DVD will not 
be out for another six months and it is 
for very advanced students in this 
form of dance. 

Hopefully, in some small way, by 
sharing these letters I can help you 
tackle some of life's obstacles. Just 
like some of my fellow Labradors 
who are Seeing Eye Dogs, I am look- 
ing out for you! n 

Keep a leg up, 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever loho spends his 
spare time hunting up good stories ivith best 
friend Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke and 
Clarke at umKO.clarkecjones.coni. 



Check out the photo contest 
winners in the March iss(LJel 

To get yodr copy send check 
for ^f .00 payable to Tneascinen 
of Virginia, neqpesting March 
2010 issue, to: 

Virginia Wildlife 

P.O.Box 11 lOf 
Richmond, VA 23230 

APRIL 2010 


by Tom Guess 

Virginia Celebrates 50 Years of Safe Boating 

I J / ith a long winter behind us, 
WW April presents an ideal time 
to inspect your lifejackets and brush 
up on your boating safety knowl- 
edge before you head out on the 

Have you ever asked yourself 
why the Department is charged with 
boating and boating safety? Chapter 
500 of the 1960 Virginia Acts of Gen- 
eral Assembly was "An act to require 
and provide for the safe operation of 
certain motorboats on the waters of 
this State over which the State now 
has or hereafter obtains jurisdiction." 
This act marked the beginning of the 
recreation boating program in the 
commonwealth. It established our 
numbering requirement, safety 
equipment carriage requirements, 
boating under the influence re- 
sponse, and authority for the "Com- 
mission" of Game and Inland Fish- 
eries to make rules and regulattons 
in connection with the safe and rea- 
sonable operation of vessels on wa- 
ters within the state's territorial lim- 

Since 1960 the Department has 
witnessed a number of subsequent, 
boating milestones, including water- 
craft titling in 1981; watercraft dealer 
licensing in 1988; implied consent 
and .10 Blood Alcohol Concentration 
(BAG) for Boating Under the Influ- 
ence (BUI) inl989; Personal Water- 
craft (PWC) statutes in 1991; and pro- 
gressively stricter laws for operating 
both personal watercraft and larger 
recreational boats — including safety 
education compliance in 2007. 

Many of Virginia's boating laws 
and regulations apply in concert 
with federal laws or regulations and 
mirror national enforcement and 
boating education trends. In support 
of our mission statement, the De- 
partment provides boat titling and 
registration, boating access through 
our statewide public boat ramps and 
facilities, boating education, boating 
law enforcement, and boat accident 
investigation and reporting. 

This summer we enter our sec- 
ond year of the phased-in schedule 
of compliance for boating safety ed- 
ucation. On July 1, 2010 all operators 
of Personal Watercraft (PWC), more 
commonly referred to as "jet skis," 
will be required to complete a boat- 
ing safety course approved by the 
National Association of State Boat- 
ing Law Administrators (NASBLA) 
and accepted by the Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries. There 
are several ways you can meet this 
requirement: 1) If you have ever 


taken a boating safety course given 
by the USCG Auxiliary, the U.S. 
Power Squadrons, Virginia, or anoth- 
er state; 2) If you are licensed or have 
been licensed by the U.S. Coast 
Guard to operate a vessel (Master, 
Captain, or Mate); or 3) If you are a li- 
censed commercial fisherman and 
your license is not expired. 

If you meet the requirement 
through one of the means mentioned 
or you simply would like one, you 
may want to consider our optional 
Lifetime Boater's card — a water- 
proof wallet card that shows you 
have met the requirement. The card is 
available for $10, and the application 
may be printed from our website. 

You can get more information on 
boating and boating safety education 
in Virginia by visiting our website: D 

Torn Guess, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.), serves as a 
stateivide coordinator for the Boating Safety 
Education Program at the DGIF. 

A Be Responsible-don't operate your 
boat under the influence of 
alcohol or drugs 

▲ Be Safe-take a boating safety 
course and always wear your 

A Have Fun-go out there for what 
boating is meant for. . . fun! 



by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Baked Stuffed Shells 

rhis stuffed shells recipe is one that has been adapted over 
many years. It's also one that had largely been forgotten 
in our dinner repertoire. In those early years before we began 
butchering our own deer and using most of the venison we 
ground for more exotic things such as jerky and sausage, 
ground venison was a standby in preparing meals that were 
both economical and tasty. 

Carefully trimmed meat from the neck, flanks, hocks, 
and front shoulders of a deer makes for excellent ground veni- 
son. This simple, flavorful Italian-style dish is a superb way to 
get the most out of these cuts. 



jumbo pasta shells (about /z of a 12 ounce box— 

we usually cook a few extras since a couple always 

seem to tear) 


tablespoon olive oil 


cup chopped onion 


chopped garlic cloves 


pound ground venison 

Salt and pepper to taste 


cup bread crumbs 


tablespoons parsley 


teaspoon Italian seasonings 


cups shredded mozzarella cheese 


slightly beaten egg 


ounces favorite tomato or marinara sauce 

(we usually add garlic and white pepper to 

commercial sauces) 


cup dry red wine 


tablespoons water J 


cup shredded parmesan cheese 


Preheat oven to 375°. Cook pasta according to directions for 
al dente, or just until tender. It is critical to not overcook since 
the shells will continue to cook while baking. Drain and set 
aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat and brown 
onion, garlic, and ground meat. Remove from heat and mix in 
next six ingredients. Set aside. 

Stir together tomato sauce, wine, and water. Taste the 
mixture and amp up the spices if desired. Coat the bottom of a 
9xl3-inch baking pan v^dth about V4 of the sauce. Stuff each 
shell With about iVz tablespoons of meat mixture and arrange 
in a baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and 

APRIL 2010 

sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° uncovered for 
about 25 minutes or until bubbly. Makes four to five very gen- 
erous portions. 

This recipe is easy to prepare for large groups and can be 
made ahead of time to the point of assembling and baking. Or 
bake, then refrigerate and enjoy as leftovers. 

As wdth traditional pasta dishes, serve with salad and gar- 
lic bread, using good Italian bread. Full-bodied red wine like 
good Chianti, an Argentinean Malbec, or a nice Italian San- 
giovese will enhance the flavors. 

Side Dish - Antipasto 

A good antipasto can easily be a meal all by itself. On a recent 
trip to Australia, we were fortunate to visit the Smelly Cheese 
Shop in the Hunter Valley wine region. A combination platter 
and a few added goodies made it one of the best we've eaten. 
Of course, outstanding wfine and scenery didn't hurt. A small- 
er serving makes an excellent accompaniment to the stuffed 
shells. Here are recommendations for re-creating that Aussie 


Assorted lettuces 

Fresh spinach 

Grape or cherry tomato halves 

Cucumber, thinly sliced 

Red onion, thinly sliced 

Grilled, roasted or fresh peppers 

(sweet and spicy varieties are okay) 
Roasted eggplant or zucchini 
Assorted olives 
Slices of 2 or 3 cheeses (we like marinated mozzarella, 

sharp Cheddar, Jarlesburg, or Camembert) 
Prosciutto and salami, thinly sliced 

Pinch of Italian seasonings or Herbs de Provence 
Salt and pepper to taste 
Olive oil 


On a serving platter, arrange the lettuce and spinach. Top 
with remaining ingredients and drizzle with a nice olive oil. 
Enjoy with a good French baguette or Italian bread dipped in 
some olive oil with seasonings and fresh chopped garlic. U 


by Lynda Richardson 

Just Say ""No"" to Automatic - Part 1 

Many photographers start using 
their digital cameras by setting 
them on automatic mode and firing 
away with tlie hope of getting great 
pictures. Unfortunately, tliis doesn't 
always work and many are dissatis- 
fied with the end results. By setting a 
camera on automatic, you lose total 
artistic control over how your photo- 
graphs will look. The camera is mak- 
ing all of the decisions for you. 

Well, I don't necessarily believe a 
camera shares my artistic vision. It is 
a technical wonder but it certainly 
doesn't have a creative bone in its 
plastic body! My guess as to why the 
automatic setting is so popular is that 
photographers really don't know 
what they're missing by using it. 
They are not happy but don't know 

Taking your camera off of auto- 
matic is not as hard as it seems, be- 
cause there are really only three basic 
things you need to consider when 
making great exposures. First, you 
need to decide on your ISO; then, ei- 
ther the aperture or shutter speed to 
use. (We'll talk about aperture in May 
and shutter speed in June.) 

Let's first look at ISO. ISO stands 
for 'Tnternational Organization for 
Standardization," but what it repre- 
sents to digital photographers is the 
light sensitivity of a camera's image 
sensor. The higher the ISO number, 
the more sensitivity the sensor has to 
light. The lower the ISO number, the 
less sensitivity. A high ISO, like 1600, 
allows you to photograph in low 
light situations such as night con- 
certs, dark overcast days, or just after 
sunset. A low ISO, like 100, allows 
you to shoot on bright, sunny days. 

So why wouldn't you just select a 
high ISO and shoot it all the time? Be- 
cause high ISOs, starting with 400, 
also mean that you can experience 
"noise" in the shadow areas of your 
pictures. For film shooters this is sim- 


ilar to what is known as "grain." Al- 
though you can purchase noise re- 
duction software programs, these 
programs really just smooth out the 
noise, making details in your photo- 
graphs less sharp. 

When you go out to take pic- 
tures, the first thing you should do is 
set the ISO for the amount of light in 
which you will be working. If you 
don't know where your ISO is, grab 

It was a slightly overcast day so I chose to set my 
ISO slightly higher, to 200, to capture this snowy 
egret from a blind. -' Lynda Richardson 

your camera manual and find out! 
Once you have selected your ISO, 
your next job will be to decide 
whether the aperture or shutter 
speed setting is most important to the 
photographs you are getting ready to 

In the next Photo Tips column we 
will continue our discussion with 
aperture settings. Until then, Happy 
Shooting! D 

You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- 
quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw 
files on a disk and include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or other shipping method 
for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you 
captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone num- 
ber. We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 


Congratulations to Stewart Mason of Broadway for his lovely photograph of a Cecropia moth taken last 
April. Stewart reports that he found a cocoon several months earlier, took it home, and it hatched in his 
kitchen. (Oops!) After the photo session, he released the moth. Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, Canon 
60mm macro lens, ISO 800, l/200th, f2.8, plus flash. What a stunning moth and beautiful picture! 



Outdoor Catalog 

2009 Limited Edition 

Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife 

Our 2009 Collector's knife has once again been cus- 
tomized by Buck Knives and features a wild turkey in 
full strut. The elegant, solid cherry box features a forest 
scene. Knives and boxes, made in USA. 

Item # VW-409 $85.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 

Squirrel Skinning & Pan Fish Preparation 

(Combo DVD) 

Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy — Video instruction 

by Conservation Officer John Berry 

Pan Fish Preparation and Filleting — Video instruction 

byVDGIF Outdoor Education Volunteer Jenny West 


$8.00 each 

Habitat at Home 

Check out this 2009 DVD 
that features several types of 
home habitat gardens and 
interviews with the home- 
owners who created them. 

Item #VW-254 
$12.00 each 

To Order visit the Department's 

website at: or 

call (804) 367-2569. 

Please allow 3 to 4 weeks 

for delivery. 

Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program 

Celebrate the 28th anniversary of Virginia's Nongame Wildlife 
Program by helping to support essential research and manage- 
ment of Virginia's native birds, fish, and other nongame animals. 

If you are due a tax refund from the Commonwealth of Virginia, you 
can contribute to the Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program by simply 
marking the appropriate place on this year's tax checkoff, on the Vir- 
ginia state income tax form. 

If you would like to make a cash donation directly to the Virginia 
Nongame Wildlife Program using a VISA or MasterCard, you can visit 
the Department's Web site or mail a check made out to Virginia 
Nongame Program and mail it to Virginia Nongame Program, 4010 W. 
Broad St., Richmond, VA 23230-1104. 



Magazine subscription-related calls only I -800-7 1 0-9369 

Twelve issues for just $12.95! 

All other caUs to (804) 367- 1 000; (804) 367-1278 TTY 

Visit our website at 

♦ Children in tlie picture must fall into one of the 
following age categories when the picture is taken: 
1-5 or 6-10. 

♦ Photos should not be more than one year old and 
must be taken in Virginia, Only one photo 
submission per child. 

♦ Submit photo on photograph quality paper. No 
CD's accepted, Photos should not exceed 4" X 6", 

♦ Attach a piece of paper to back of photo and 
include: name, age, address, phone number, and 
fishing location. Please do not write on the back of 
the photographs. 

♦ Children in a boat must be wearing a lifejacket, 
properly buckled or zipped, 

♦ A Contest Release Form (PDF) must be submitted 
along with the photograph. 
Go to for release form 
and complete contest details, 

♦ Photos must be postmarked on or before 
June 19,2010, 

♦ Send entry to 201 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest, 
VDGIF, PO.Box 1 1 104, Richmond, VA 23230-1 104. 

♦ Judging will take place in July and winners will be 
posted on the DGIF website.